Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Audi IRC Australian Championship - Multiple Laser world champion and Rolex ISAF World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby has been part of many different race programs. When asked what he believes is the magic ingredient, the explanation for Marcus Blackmore’s mind boggling success at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week with his TP52 Hooligan, Slingsby says it’s the team.
'Sometimes the volume goes up but it’s always constructive. There is never a harsh word spoken to a crewmember, no one gets attacked,' he says. Slingsby is Hooligan’s tactician and on the owner who does the majority of the driving he’s particularly complimentary, 'As long as I can paint a good picture Marcus does the rest perfectly, probably better than what I could do.'
There’s no doubt Blackmore’s boat is fast, damn fast, and boasts an enviable line up of yachting superstars who are being coached by one of the best, Australian Olympic coach Victor Kovalenko. Including today’s two windward /leewards, Hooligan has recorded six wins and two seconds to be on eight points in IRC Class A Grand Prix Division, stretching away from the nearest boat, Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki on 14 points with two races remaining.
Hooligan is also holding firm in the Audi IRC Australian Championship which will be decided at Race Week, leading Class A on three points from Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki on six points and Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll on seven points.
In Class B of the Championship, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire is leading comfortably on four points well clear of Rob Reynolds’ Exile on ten points and Paul Clitheroe’s Balance on 11.
In Class C of the Audi IRC Australian Championship Peter Sorensen’s Sydney 36CR The Philosophers Club is leading on six points from Andy Kearnan’s L’Altra Donna on nine points and Andrew Hurt’s Onya on 17 points.
Hooligan, Rob Hanna’s Shogun and Loki are staging a three-way tussle for the major Race Week placings, holding out the other players including Hiatt’s Living Doll and Jim Farmer’s New Zealand Botin and Carkeek design, racing with America’s Cup sailor Chris Dickson aboard.
The Melges 32 Sports Boats Division at Race Week is one design racing at its best. Noel Leigh-Smith’s Desperado from Southport Yacht Club is the new clubhouse leader after today’s long race, ousting Stephen Girdis’ Funnel Web from the top spot.
Desperado’s tactician 'when it’s going right' Phil Kellond-Knight from the Gold Coast admits 'the afterguard is fairly ancient' and at this point of the week they are starting to hurt given the physical nature of the class and the testing conditions. 'We go to the Tavern at night and tell a few lies then go home to bed,' said Kellond-Knight.
Amazingly Desperado, a brand new Melges 32, only arrived in the country last month giving the crew just two opportunities for some training on the Gold Coast Broadwater before trucking the boat to Hamilton Island where they are just one point out in front with two passage races to be sailed.
Today's forecast is for abating E/SE 10/15 knot winds and decreasing seas with scattered showers. Tomorrow, for the final day of Australia’s most awarded sailing regatta winds are likely to swing to the NE/SE at 10-15 knots and decrease, hopefully just enough breeze to get the 195 competing boats around the track in the Molle Islands Race before the series runs out of puff.
Trophies of a different kind will be up for grabs this morning with the Prix d ‘Elegance being run in the morning before racing commences. Winners will be announced at Saturday evening’s official trophy presentation for the following categories;
• Best Presented Yacht and Crew (yacht in first-class trim and crew in matching uniforms)
• Best Fun-Themed Yacht and Crew
On departing Hamilton Marina and entering Dent Passage those vying will turn immediately to starboard and cruise past the Flag Deck of Hamilton island Yacht Club, as close as possible without running aground.
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week website